Perhaps Henrik Lundqvist, the beloved veteran New York Rangers’ goaltender, isn’t pleased with how his season has gone so far. Early on he told the New York Post, “I feel like there’s been one goal a game I could stop that I haven’t…” (from ‘Henrik Lundqvist’s self-review: ‘I need to do better’’, New York Post – 11/19/19). Yet, he continues to expand his legacy.
As a result of the Rangers’ 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild at home on Nov. 25, Lundqvist earned the 455th win of his career, passing Curtis Joseph for 5th all-time in NHL history. He also added to his franchise record for most wins.
This marked another milestone in what has been one of the most storied and accomplished careers of a player in a Broadway Blueshirts uniform. However, Lundqvist hasn’t been able to keep his top-five status due to the fact that he hasn’t played much since that victory against the Wild. Vegas Golden Knights’ Marc-Andre Fleury has since passed him. Fleury, who’s started in 31 games since Nov. 20, now has 466 wins to Lundqvist’s 459.
Lundqvist exceeded expectations from the time he was made starting goaltender, after an injury to Kevin Weekes, let alone from the day he was drafted by the Rangers in 2000. From his unique butterfly stance to his aggressiveness, from his passion and heart to his leadership, Lundqvist won over the NHL in his 15 seasons in the league.
Whether it’s one performance, a season’s worth, or a lifetime’s, everything can be broken down into statistics. What numbers — outside of Lundqvist’s No. 30 jersey — are the most meaningful of his time in New York? Is there one that stands out?
7: More Than Luck for “King Henrik”
The number seven seems to pop up multiple times going back to the start of Lundqvist’s NHL career. It began when he was selected by the Rangers in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
As iterated in a post on the team’s best draft picks, all teams in sports have had their share of historic draft steals. The New England Patriots have Tom Brady, the Seattle Seahawks have Russell Wilson, the San Antonio Spurs have Manu Ginobili. For the Rangers, there’s Lundqvist.
In his rookie campaign in 2005-06, Lundqvist was thrust into the starting role in the third game of the season. After two losses, he helped his team to wins over the New Jersey Devils and Atlanta Thrashers before beating the Florida Panthers 4-0 in the seventh game of the season. That win made him the first Rangers rookie goaltender to record a shutout since John Vanbiesbrouck in 1984-85. The rest, as they say, is history.
That first Rangers season also marked the start of another Lundqvist “seven” — a seven-season stretch where he recorded 30 or more wins. That number increases without the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Even then, per Hockey-Reference, last season marked the first time since his NHL debut that “King Henrik” did not earn at least 20 wins. In fact, he is one of 15 NHL goalies to have, at least, 11 20-win seasons.
Then there’s Game 7, where Lundqvist is considered a force and could be named the greatest Game 7 goalie in the sport. He has been in goal for eight Game 7s in his career with a 6-2 record. The two losses — his first Game 7 in 2008-09 and his most recent in 2014-15 — are the only times he gave up more than one goal. He has never had a save percentage (SV%) below a .917 in a winner-take-all playoff matchup.
Lundqvist’s Other Key Numbers
The number seven is as prominent in Lundqvist’s career as his No. 30, but there are three other numbers that tell how impactful the Swede has been to the team.
Firstly, there’s 61, which represents his total number of playoff wins, a Rangers record. While he has yet to win a Stanley Cup with the team, his play is consistently a factor in their ability to hang with the best.
Then, there’s 64, his total number of shutouts, the most by a Rangers goaltender. Whether it’s just regular-season matchups or including the playoffs, Lundqvist is the Rangers’ master at blanking the other team. This is especially so on home ice, as he also holds the record for most shutouts at Madison Square Garden.
The number 50 might not mean as much as the others, but it does represent a unique feat. A 55-save performance in a Feb. 28, 2018, win over the Vancouver Canucks, and 51 saves the next game against the Calgary Flames on March 2, 2018, made Lundqvist the first NHL goalie to record back-to-back 50-plus save performances since the NHL kept track of save statistics.
Finally, there’s 5. Five All-Star selections and five nominations for the Vezina Trophy (winning it in 2012), as Lundqvist brought the Rangers to three Eastern Conference Finals and their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 seasons.
There are those who feel it’s time the team got rid of Lundqvist; others feel that to call oneself a Rangers fan means supporting him. Some feel he’s past his prime, others feel he’s still got plenty left in the tank. Regardless, Lundqvist’s accomplishments and the memories he’s provided will always be part of Blueshirts’ history.
Stats come from Hockey Reference